Tapestry’s Sights On African Americans

Americans already live in a hip-hop nation. But it’s not just the cultural influence of the African American market that’s making it a target for U.S. marketers. It also wields hefty—and fast-growing—buying power.

That has drawn the attention of Tapestry, the Chicago-based multicultural unit of Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group, a buyer that is turning to sellers for expert advice. Tapestry has formed an 11-member advisory council made up of African American media executives to “explore how to speak to that population and all facets of that community,” said board member Sonia Alleyne, careers and lifestyle editor at Black Enterprise magazine.

The council aims to share research and information about the African American community, which is more diverse than many realize, said L. Renee Richardson, director of African American markets for Tapestry. “Typically, people think of the African American market as an ‘urban market,’ but it’s much more than that,” said Richardson. “This advisory board will allow us to fast-track our understanding of the African American marketplace.”

Collectively, African Americans have influence over more than $600 billion in buying power annually, according to University of Georgia research; that number is expected to grow by about 30 percent by 2007. Adspend directed at the demo totaled more than $1.3 billion in 2002, according to Black Enterprise.

Council members include Kenard Gibbs, president of Vibe; Louis Carr, president of broadcast advertising at BET; Will Griffin, president and COO of Simmons Lathan Media Group; and Launa Thompson, general sales manager at Clear Channel’s WCGI and WVAZ radio stations.

Tapestry handles an estimated $130 million in dedicated African American assignments for Kraft, Walt Disney World and Allstate, along with African American efforts for other SMG clients.